Tag Archives: milestone

How We Finally Conquered Toddler Tooth Brushing


Stay turned in the next few days for a giveaway!

Okay, conquered may not be the best word here, but Porter finally doesn’t mind tooth brushing, and he’ll even put the toothbrush in his mouth himself.  Given what we’ve experienced in the past eight months or so when we first started brushing his teeth, this seems like a miracle. It definitely seems like a cause for celebration in the Blythe household.

Like I said, we’ve been trying to brush Porter’s teeth for about eight months now. At first the doctor suggested using a wet wash cloth to wipe down his teeth and gums, and of course, he hated that. I took recommendations from other moms and my dental hygienist, and tried several different toothbrushes with him. I tried using just water (at first) and then tried a few different baby friendly toothpastes. Nothing. Would. Work.

When we tried to brush his teeth, it wasn’t just torturous for him; it was torturous for us as well. When a toothbrush went near his face, he screamed and cried like nothing I’ve ever seen or heard. He arched his back and big, thick tears would be running all down his face. I felt horrible. He clearly hated this, but I knew that we needed to be persistent. I kept telling myself that if we continued to do it every day, twice a day, that eventually something would click and he would “get over it.”  So, we just kept at it for several months, but every morning and night, we got the same results: an extremely distraught little boy. We even tried brushing our teeth in front of him. Since he likes to mimic us (especially David), we thought this might help. It didn’t.

brushing teeth

When we asked our doctor about it, he said it was normal for kids to hate brushing their teeth at this age. While reassuring, this didn’t help us at all.

A few weeks ago I decided that what we were doing just wasn’t working. I told David that I wanted to try brushing our teeth in front of him every day, twice a day. If he saw us doing it enough, he might just want to do it. While we had done this before, we weren’t doing it consistently (we had really only done it in front of him a few times.)

And so, that’s what we started to do. At first he would just turn his head to look at us or stare at us in the mirror. Then we started to get some smiles (I think he thought it was kind of funny) and eventually he would hold on to his own toothbrush while we brushed our teeth. He never put his toothbrush to his mouth, and when we would move on to brush his teeth, we’d still get the screaming, but holding on to his toothbrush was a small victory to me.

Then one day when I went to go brush his teeth, he opened his mouth for the toothbrush. He still didn’t like it, and he kind of made a face and squirmed away for a second, but then he would open his mouth again. I knew we were making progress!

Then I was sent a new training toothpaste in a Bluum box (more on Bluum later) and even though I’ve tried multiple baby toothpastes without success, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try it. And guess what? Porter loved it, and on the second night of using it, he put his toothbrush in his mouth all by himself. I swear I got teary-eyed.  I was so proud of him. #weirdmommymoment

Click here to starting bluuming today!

The magical toothpaste? It’s a new toddler training toothpaste (safe for babies 3-24 months) from Tom’s of Maine. This is different from their children’s toothpaste, which I believe isn’t safe until age 2.

Tom's Toothpaste

I’m not sure if it was our persistent tooth brushing in front of him or if it was the new toothpaste, but I really do think it was a combination of both.

The cheapest price I found online was for $3.99 from Vitacost. And if you use this link, you’ll receive $10 off your first $30 order. If you’re not familiar with Vitacost, you’re in for a treat. On its website, Vitacost claims to have “more than 45,000 items from over 2,500 of the top, most-trusted brands, [their] selection includes all the nutrition and wellness products you need – at prices up to 50% off retail!” I do a lot of shopping on Amazon (one of my quirks is that I have a weird obsession with reading reviews on Amazon for random products), but for health related purchases, I always shop on Vitacost.

Mamas, how did you get your child to start brushing his/her teeth? Have you hit any milestones (big or small) lately?


Being a Working Mom and Missing Your Child’s “Firsts”

Missing Your Child's FirstsAs a working mom, I miss a lot of things. I miss a lot of smiles, tears, naps, stories, dirty diapers and episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba (Thank goodness! That show is creepy.)  It’s difficult knowing that someone else is spending more hours in a day with my child than I am. When I spend time with him in the evenings, I try to squeeze every last second out of him as I can. I look at him and watch him play, learn, and grow and wonder what I missed that day while I was at work.  I know he’s well taken care of, and I know the socialization with other kids is great for him, but in those daytime hours when I’m helping to teach (and maybe even parent!) my other kids (my students), how many “firsts” am I truly missing?

Last week I posted Porter’s Halloween pictures the day before Halloween. Why? Well, truth be told, David and I missed Porter’s FIRST Halloween. I know he’s only 10 months old; I know he won’t remember his first Halloween; I know he won’t be scarred for life, but still, I can’t help wanting to be there for EVERY little thing, big or small.

Some may say that we went on vacation and that’s why we missed his first Halloween, but that’s not exactly true (although the sunshine and relaxation were very much appreciated!) One of David’s best friends got married over the weekend in California and David was lucky enough to stand up in the wedding. We knew bringing Porter along was possible but not ideal.  Wedding festivities started on Thursday (Halloween) which meant we wouldn’t be home, and thus, we would miss Porter’s first Halloween.

Several months ago when I first realized that this was going to happen, I seriously felt depressed about it for a long time. Of course we wanted to go to our good friends’ wedding and we’d have many more Halloweens in the future, but I felt incredibly guilty. No, we weren’t missing his first Christmas or birthday, but it’s Halloween–the only day when you get free candy for dressing up and looking adorable (every kid’s dream!)  We even considered missing Thursday’s wedding activities and taking a red eye flight that evening after trick-or-treating, but since it was a lengthy flight, the last flight was at 7:30 (not late enough.) The earliest flight Friday morning would not get us there in time for the rehearsal (lunch time), so it was either miss Halloween or not go to the wedding (which wasn’t really an option.)

For awhile I considered staying home with Porter by myself, but celebrating Porter’s first Halloween without David didn’t feel right either. Besides, David’s best friend had been a part of both of our lives for a long time and while Porter would have more Halloweens, Adam would only marry the girl of his dreams once.

I was lucky enough to witness some of Porter’s firsts: his first tooth, the first time he rolled over (both ways), the first time he tried real food, etc, but I’m terrified I am going to miss some other firsts. Yet, I know I will. It’s bound to happen. Porter still isn’t crawling yet (but he’s so close!) and while it saddens me to think about it, chances are I’ll miss the first time he really figures it out. If I’m honest with myself, I’ll probably miss his first steps and first word, too.

While I want to witness every single one of Porter’s firsts, the reality is I’m not going to. And when I really think about it, he probably wouldn’t want me to be there for every one either. I’ll miss his first kiss, the first time he gets his heart broken, and the first time he says “I love you” to a girl. I’ll miss the first time he drinks a beer, the first time he gets hurt at recess, and the first time he gets called on in class. I’ll miss his first college class, his first final exam, and the first day of his first real job.

Missing things is part of being a mom, no matter if I am working or not.

But there are a lot of things I won’t miss–hopefully the times that matter the most–and a lot of things I haven’t missed. I was there for his first breath, the first time he looked at me, and the first time he fell asleep against my chest, and these are the firsts I need to hold on to, because these mean more than all of those other things combined.

Baby Led Weaning: A Different Approach to Feeding Solids

I don’t know about most moms, but I was really excited and anxious to start feeding Porter solids. I don’t know why, but I thought it would be fun, and I imagined that he was going to be a wonderful little eater and that we would have no problems whatsoever. I guess I’m naive and I’m still so starstruck by my own child that I anticipate him being perfect in every way. Well, as you can probably see where this is going, this didn’t happen for us.

We waited until Porter was 6 months old until we started solids. I considered starting a little earlier (the recommended time is between 4 and 6 months) but when we went to Porter’s 4 month check up, the doctor didn’t see any need to start then and said to wait until he was 6 months old. Part of me was disappointed. Ha! How stupid I was! I should have been thankful. Looking back, I realize it’s so much easier to nurse Porter for his meals instead of figuring out what solid food he is going to eat.

We started with a little bit of rice cereal. We started on a Sunday, because I wanted David to be able to witness this milestone. We busted out the camera and the video camera and were convinced to document Porter’s first time eating solids–surely this would result in adorable pictures and videos that we would look at and admire in years to come.

So we stuck Porter in his Mama & Papa chair, mixed up a little bit of cereal with some breast milk and attempted to feed it to him. Simply put, the experience was a complete and utter failure. Porter did not like the cereal. At all. Almost immediately he cried, arched his back away from the spoon, and turned his head. We tried a few more times and then accepted the fact it wasn’t going to happen…at least not that day.


I love how you can see Porter’s ultrasound pictures in the background still hanging on the side of our fridge. July2013-2July2013-6July2013-12July2013-15July2013-16

We have a video, too, but I didn’t want to torture you with that.

The following day I tried again, and the same exact thing happened. I knew that maybe Porter just wasn’t ready, but I decided to try a little bit of the rice cereal to see what it tasted like. After tasting it, I knew why Porter didn’t want to eat the cereal. It’s not that it was bland and didn’t taste like anything. Because it did taste like something–something bad. It was gross! I know I could have tried a different cereal, tried making it with water instead of breast milk or tried adding a bit of fruit to sweeten it up. However, I vowed to not give him rice cereal again, and I decided to try avocado the next day.  I wasn’t too worried about making this decision. Many people skip cereal altogether to begin with because it is more for practice anyway (with the added bonus of some iron.)

Since I was moving on to “purees, ” I dutifully made a few different purees that night after Porter went to bed. I made pureed apples, carrots, avocados, pears, and sweet potatoes. I had done some research on some good “first purees” and I also had a few books, so I went to grocery store to purchase fresh produce earlier that afternoon.  I froze all the purees and felt prepared for this next adventure.

The next day I attempted to give Porter some pureed avocado. He took a bite, but the experience wasn’t much better than the rice cereal. I didn’t think too much of it. From my reading I knew that it could take several times for a baby to try a food before liking it. I also knew that it was recommended that you give the same food for 3-4 days in a row, in case any allergic reaction were to occur. Then you would know which food was likely the culprit. Since I had made several different purees, I felt prepared and ready for that.

So, the following day I gave him avocado again, and again for two more days after that. Each day was like the first. He had no interest and did not like spoons coming at his face filled with things he didn’t know. For about two weeks I tried giving him the different purees I had made (as well as bananas, but I just mashed those) and I always adhered to the 3-4 day rule. Each experience was like the last. Sometimes he would take a bite or two, but he never expressed much interest for any of it. Sometimes there would be crying, but always, ALWAYS our attempt resulted in a huge mess. I began to stress about the fact that he wasn’t eating, even though I knew he was receiving all the nutrition he needed from breast milk. I also stressed about what food I should try to feed him next. Throughout this trial-and-error process, I made some discoveries. I noticed that it wasn’t that Porter didn’t like spoons (because that would be a weird fear), but that he wanted to be in control of the spoon. If I gave him an empty spoon, he would immediately put it in his mouth. I tried putting a bit of puree on a spoon and giving it to him a few times, but that always resulted in pureed whatever in his hair, on the wall, or on the floor (which Maggie always appreciated.)

When Porter was only a few months old, I read an article in a parenting magazine that suggested skipping purees altogether and moving straight to finger foods. It sounded crazy, like nutso I am a careless mom and I’m going to let my kid choke on a carrot crazy. I understood the claims of the article, but I brushed it aside and never thought about it again. Until now.

I did some more research, ran the idea by David, borrowed a book from my friend Megan and decided to give it a go. At first I was convinced that my child would never eat real food, because it didn’t go well when we first began. The first several foods I tried ended up on the floor and while a few food items went up to his mouth, he didn’t actually eat anything for a long time. This went on for about two weeks, and I began to get really frustrated. In those two weeks, I think he took one bite of steamed carrots. Nevertheless, I kept trying. Most days he would play with the food and not eat it.

Then one weekend we went to go visit my sister in Indy. It was the same trip as the teething incident. We had tacos for dinner and as we were eating, I decided to plop some refried beans on the tray of his Mama & Papa chair. He immediately put his hands in it–and I knew he would–but it didn’t take him long to put those hands into his mouth, and he LOVED them. It probably wasn’t the best “first real food” for him, but it was the only food that he took more than one bite of in the past few weeks. Ever since then, he’s been a pretty good eater, and he eats a large variety of food.

And it’s easy. Oh my gosh is it easy.

Instead of making and pureeing my own food for him, we literally just give him bits and pieces of whatever we’re eating (within reason) and of course we’re steering clear from the traditional foods that a baby shouldn’t have under one year of age (peanut butter, egg whites, honey, nuts, etc.) Sometimes he still eats some pureed stuff (I had a bunch in the freezer after all! He loves carrots+apples and avocados+bananas!), but for the most part, we don’t have to worry about what he’s going to eat, and we don’t have to worry about the infamous “3 day rule.” I know there is still a chance that he could have an allergic reaction to something and we wouldn’t know exactly what caused it, but the chances are slim, and the research I did said that most babies have mature enough stomachs at 6 months to handle a variety of foods. {Please keep in mind that I am no doctor nor do I have any sort of medical background. Plus, while I did read a book on Baby Led Weaning, I also did a lot of my research on good old Google.}

And it’s amazing to watch him eat. Even when his teeth were just coming in and barely there, he could chew! He would grab the food himself and literally take a bite. He would chew that one bite for a long time and sometimes half of it came back out of his mouth, but he was definitely eating.

Beware though: if you try the Baby Led Weaning approach, some people might call you crazy. Mothers, sisters, other family members, and even strangers will cringe and tell you that your baby is going to choke or that whatever you are feeding him is too large or too hard. Trust your instincts and talk to your doctor, but above all, watch and learn from your baby. After a few weeks, I knew that this was the best choice for us.

If you attempt Baby Led Weaning, keep in mind that your baby will gag, and you may think he/she is choking. However, there is a huge difference between gagging and choking (as much of my research explained to me.) For babies, their gag reflex is so close to the tip of their tongue (until it gradually moves back to where it is for adults). This means that they gag very easily, but that’s okay. Gagging does not equal choking. With gagging, babies make noise; choking is silent. Don’t get me wrong–it’s still scary, especially at first, but your baby will learn and adjust and once he/she gets accustomed to more foods and textures, he/she will gag less.

We’ve been feeding Porter with the Baby Led Weaning approach for a little over two months now, and he’s tried a lot of foods. There have been plenty of things he hasn’t liked (he still isn’t a fan of carrots by themselves) but there are so many things that he likes that I never thought an 8 month old would. He loves meat (chicken is his favorite, but he tried some pork tenderloin the other night and he couldn’t get it into his mouth fast enough!) He loves watermelon, grilled cheese, and yogurt. He likes a lot of fruits and veggies, too. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going, and I see him developing into a very good eater. When it comes time for baby number two, and when it’s time to start feeding baby number two solids, I will not hesitate to try the Baby Led Weaning approach again.

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Porter in Motion {a video}

David’s parents bought us a video camera for Christmas this past year (just before Porter was born). We’ve been able to get some special moments on camera (like when Maggie and Porter met for the first time), but all the videos lived on the camera (until yesterday) because I had never bothered to upload them to our computer. When Porter first rolled from his belly to his back (shortly after he turned 4 months old), I tried to get it on camera

about a dozen times before I was successful. It seemed like every time I got the camera out, Porter refused to roll over.

Yesterday Porter rolled over from his back to his belly for the first time. David and I joked that he would never do it, because he HATES being on his belly. However, I was able to get it on camera right away! As soon as I saw him do it for the first time, I got the camera out and hit record. Since David was at work, I hoped I could capture it on camera, and Porter didn’t disappoint! Clearly, I am not the best videographer.

He’s growing up so fast!